They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break…they filled both boats so full that they began to sink (Luke 5:6,7).
Full! To be full is “to hold as much or as many as possible; having no empty space.” The Greek word for full, pleres, can mean “abounding in or complete.” When we are full, we don’t have much appetite for food. In a similar way, we have less hunger for God when we’re satisfied with the things of this world. Yet Peter surrendered to Jesus when he was full. An overflowing catch of fish had left his nets full to the breaking point. It’s then that the passionate, impetuous fisherman leaves fishing behind to follow Jesus.
Let’s spend a minute reflecting on Luke 5:1-11. Peter was washing his nets, resigned to going home empty-handed. Jesus tells him to put out the nets again to try one more time for a catch.
Peter reminds Jesus that he had toiled all night long without a single fish. “But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). The results left Peter and the other fishermen “astonished at the catch of fish” (verse 9).
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:6-8).
What was it about the overwhelming catch of fish that drove the Peter to his knees? Perhaps, when he came face-to-face with the glory of God, he felt shame at his own inadequacy. Or maybe he was stricken with fear when he realized he still had an emptiness which the things of this world–even a crazy catch of fish–could never fill.
Whatever the reason, Jesus looks straight into Peter’s soul and utters ten words that would forever change his life: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” Peter immediately pulled up his boat, left his fishing and followed Jesus.
Just like that? A full boat of fish…his biggest catch ever? Yet he drops it all to follow Jesus. Something happened to Peter in those few minutes that caused him to lay down the very thing that had given his life purpose.
It’s as if Jesus invited Peter to a new life and a renewed calling all at the same time. “Peter, don’t worry. We can clean up your act as you follow me,” I can hear Jesus saying. “And if you think fishing is fun, you haven’t seen anything yet. From now, on, you’ll be helping me to catch men….to rescue their very souls from destruction!”
What does it mean to lay your “fishing” at the feet of Jesus? To use your gifts and talents to win others for eternity? What wild and glorious adventure is Jesus calling you to? He speaks the language of a rugged fisherman. He surely speaks yours. Simply be still and listen. Then dare to obey.